An unbearably smug lead protagonist sinks the already floundering submarine drama The Chamber, a lifeless thriller set inside a Deep Submersible Rescue Vehicle (DSRV). Stereotypically macho sub captain Mats (Force Majeure's Johannes Kuhnke) stifles any dramatic momentum by endlessly mansplaining his ship's limits to a trio of mysterious hijackers: even-handed Red (Charlotte Salt), hotheaded Parks (James McArdle) and mild-mannered Denholm (Elliot Levey).
More often than not, Mats condescendingly tells Red, the baddies' leader, that he doesn't have enough supplies, time or patience to accommodate her unrealistic demands. His patronizing tone makes him sound like the kind of stoic but cocky blue-collar professional that Leslie Nielsen, Jim Abrahams and the Zucker brothers sent up in Airplane and The Naked Gun movies.
The Chamber also resembles the Zucker-Abrahams comedies in another unfortunate respect: The story labors to justify its square-jawed hero's chauvinistic worldview, just this time not satirically. Mats and Red eventually come to an unbelievable mutual understanding, but he spends most scenes talking down to her whenever she questions his authority, especially after his sub crashes.
Mats' advice to Red and her crew may be sensible, like when he warns the hotheaded Parks not to try to reach the ocean's surface by suddenly releasing the sub's exit hatch (short answer: The sharp increase in underwater pressure would crush him during his ascent). But who wants to root for a dismissive know-it-all who micromanages his own kidnappers? Surely, even the most diehard sub-thriller aficionados can do better than The Chamber.